I am addressing a special appeal to Lopez residents asking for support for a proposed Marine Invertebrate Course at the Elementary School in spring 2014. In 2013 we received a generous donation from a Lopez resident towards tuition costs and a Friday Harbor resident sponsored the class adventure on the RV Centennial, UW Friday Harbor Labs research vessel. This was a great success and has raised expectations among the current third grade students who are looking forward to their turn.
Our Marine Educator, Noreene Ignelzi, collects live animals from the Friday Harbor Labs in the morning and transports them to the classroom where the students will be able to handle them, gently, and learn about their lifestyle, behavior and habitats. She then returns them to the labs. In June, after the course, the class will leave Lopez on the early ferry and be met at the Spring Street dock by RV Centennial. They will sail to a convenient spot where divers equipped with camera and underwater intercom, will explore the marine animals while students watch and listen in the lab on board.
Students will be able to ask questions of the diver and special samples will be brought on board for closer examination. Less invasive than the old style dredges, this program has proved just as informative and exciting for the students who gain knowledge of the animals and of diving practices.
Cost of tuition amounts to $1000 for eight lessons and this includes travel from Friday Harbor to Lopez and back. A half-day trip on the Centennial costs $1,500. We would be most grateful if Lopez residents would contribute to the course, with a tax deductible donation to San Juan Nature Institute, PO BOX 3110, Friday Harbor WA 98250.
All your donations will be dedicated to Lopez students. We have offered this class for many years on Shaw and Orcas and know that it inspires students to become stewards of our unique marine heritage. Please help us guide another generation to care for our unique natural heritage.
Fiona M. Norris
Science Director, San Juan Nature Institute